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Mandy Keifetz

Mandy Keifetz

Mandy Keifetz is a 4th-generation New Yorker. Her work has appeared in .Cent, Penthouse, Vogue, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and other ‘zines too numerous to count. Her first novel, Corrido, has been optioned by a UK production company. She was a Fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2002 and her plays have been staged in New York, London, Cambridge, Montréal, and Oslo. She is an occasional MFA dissertation defense panelist at U-MASS, Amherst. She lives in Brooklyn with an opera composer, their child, and an exuberant hound dog.

Also by Mandy Keifetz

  • Corrido

 

 

 

Flea Circus: a brief bestiary of grief

Flea CircusFlea Circus: a brief bestiary of grief

$26.00 hardcover | 202 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-936970-04-9
Publication Date: February 2012
Buy: Amazon.com | spdbooks.org

AWP Award Series in the Novel

Pascal’s Wager and performing fleas. The Haunted Mansion of Long Branch and an old dockside bar. Raceway Park and a pristine 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. A cat named Altamont. These are all that stand between a young mathematician and madness as she attempts to make sense of her lover’s suicide. Narrow margins, you say? Not much to place between a slip of a broken-hearted Jersey Girl and the Abyss? Indeed, it is a treacherous twelve seconds on the quarter mile, hilarious and harrowing by turn. Blink and you’ll miss it.

I was drawn to the sheer strangeness of the writer’s project: the lyrical, tough-talking high-low lament of a Jersey Girl who cannot, who will not, and who essentially luxuriates in her refusal to get over the suicide of her lover. A simultaneously reckless and calculated intensity permeates this novel, in which the most important event has already happened, and the narrative arc (if we can call it that) is mostly ruminative and interior. Fairly soon, we realize that the narrator is playing with language, with the alphabet, even; it’s not accidental that the epigraph is taken from Georges Bataille. But for me the real surprises were less about letters than about voice, about sentences and about the paragraphs that nearly always ended in a different place (and more interestingly) than I might have predicted.                                                    —Francine Prose, from the Judge’s Citation

Flea Circus is a remarkable book. This is a fearless, deeply moving, and wholly original work, finely written and exquisitely devastating. Mandy Keifetz is a writer of unusual talent and depth.
                                     —Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Singer’s Gun

(Flea Circus) simply dazzles. The novel takes the reader to the dark place where reason and love collide and collapse under the oppressive weight of loss. A tour de force."                                                         —Kirkus Reviews

Izzy's enthralling voice pulls the reader through each heartbreak and revelation. VERDICT The experience of Keifetz's second novel (after Corrido) is less like reading a book than having a frighteningly intimate conversation over coffee. A must for fans of literary fiction.                                             —Library Journal

Praise for Corrido:

. . . intoxicating cocktail of sex and death . . .                                                           —Alanna Nash, Entertainment Weekly

. . . It is in moments like this that the insanity of her book opens itself up to reveal its rich nature, one of drugs and sweat for sure, but also one of cooling earth at night, and of sadness.                                                                    —David Garza, Austin Chronicle


Selection

You were burned in a casket-sized cardboard box. Your bones turned black as the carbon took over. The combustion destroyed all your organic compounds and once that was done, your bones turned white again.

You were a tall man, Tim, and a lean man, but there isn't a whole hell of lot of correlation between your body's weight and the volume of your ashes. Most adults produce between 2.2 and 8.8. pounds of ashes. Yours weighed 3.6. And the lean doesn't count for much in the retort. Except that Coo says you probably burned slowly because there wasn't much fat to fuel the fire.

There are eight fragments from your shinbones, Timmy. Coogan can tell because the tibia splinters into a checkerboard pattern as it chars. The surface of a femur cracks into crescent moons and there is one piece from your lovely thighs. The ossicle from one of your ears is intact, although the heat of the oven has shrunk it to the size of a doll's ossicle.

There are two surgical clips among your mortal remains, one of tantalum and one of stainless steel. Coo thinks there must have been more, that maybe they got lost when the cremation attendant swept your ashes out of the oven. I like these especially because they once tied your blood vessels safe. There is also about a fifth of a porcelain tooth which I didn't know you had.

I like having them, knowing which piece is which. I put different pieces deep inside me and carry them around all day like Ben Wa balls. In the morning I wonder: what shall I take with me today? Your femur? Your tibia? The little titanium post from your secret porcelain tooth?

Mostly it's your shinbone, but that is a statistical decision, I guess, and not a symbolic one. Most of the pieces, after all, are from your shinbones. Still, I suppose some symbolism is involved. I loved your long shins as they swung from your windowsill, and when I draw them out at night, I am giving birth to that section of you which turned me on most.

I am drawing you forth, Tim. I fetishize the pieces of your mortal remains, in chips and cracks, in chips from my crack, and that makes me a kind of miracle worker. Nothing fancy, you understand. I'm a worker of a minor, pedestrian sort of miracle. You're five weeks dead, and I am fucking you still.